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Excellent Custom «Politics and International Relations» Free Essay

«Politics and International Relations»

The competency of a state to provide public goods and strengthening political institutions earns a state legitimacy in the international community. For a country to effectively participate in global affairs, its government must be proficient enough to provide public goods as well as strengthen political and economic institutions. Analysis of the article by Mazzuca and Munck together with evaluation of work by Barkin and Cronin outline that strength of state is measured by its ability to provide public goods and the strength of its political as well as judicial institutions which must adhere to the common global practices to ensure that state passes the legitimacy test in order to participate fully in international affairs. Nonetheless, despite certain similarities in the assessment of the state role in international relations, the comparison of the articles reveals that Barkin and Cronin are more persuasive and provide a better analysis.

Summary of the Article by Mazzuca and Munck

The first article tries to establish the link between democracy and the state and determine which of the two came first. According to Mazzuca and Munck (2014), democracy is the minimal procedural term upon which a state is founded. The state is further considered as a political center that enjoys the monopoly of violence within a certain territory, rules over the people who share a common sense of nationhood, and provides all public goods with the exception of political order. The authors argue that before a country achieves a stable and enduring democratization, the state must be competent enough to install democracy. According to Mazzuca and Munck (2014), for a state to be democratic it must have the capacity to facilitate fundamental political rights such as the right to vote as well as running for office. The authors consider the link between state and democracy is crystal clear; the state is the foundation of democracy. Therefore, the scholars drive a logical conclusion from the aforementioned argument with the words “no state, no democracy” (Mazzuca & Munch, 2014). Such claim is anchored on the understanding that it is the state that puts in place various institutions that nurtures the democratization processes. Significantly, the research by Mazzuca and Munck was purely based on western countries; therefore, their argument cannot be applied to every state worldwide. The authors conclude their work by saying that without competent state government that is able to establish various political institutions, democracy cannot be realized and, therefore, contry comes before democracy.

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Summary of the Article by Barkin and Cronin

The second article by Samuel Barkin and Bruce Cronin talks about the sovereignty of nations as the core constitutive rule in international relations. According to the authors, sovereignty refers to "the institutionalization of public autonomy within the mutually exclusive jurisdictional area” (Barkin &Cronin,1994). The authors argue that territoriality and legitimate authority are core to the understanding of the sovereignty and international relations. The authors make a clear distinction between state sovereignty, which emphasizes the link between independent authority and a defined territory on one hand and national sovereignty, which stresses a link between unbiased authority and a defined population. The two forms basically differ in the source of their legitimation as independent institutions, thereby altering the setting through which states interact with each other. When the norms of the global order defend national sovereignty over state sovereignty, the global community will be sympathizing with the concerns of national self-determination at the expense of established state entities.

The article further examines how important are the principles of sovereignty in the creation and maintaining order in the international system. The authors argue since all states are self-centered and the anarchic environment of global politics, every sovereign state is responsible to be the final judge of its own interests and provide the mechanism of achieving such interests. Still, the state should endeavor to promote international relations through adherence to-diplomatic procedures, international laws, treaties, and collaboration with all other institutions that foster international cooperation since states represent specific society within a particular jurisdictional domain (Barkin &Cronin,1994). Therefore, for the state to fully participate in international affairs, it must meet the prerequisite condition of diplomatic recognition as well as legitimation.

Manifestation of the Concept of State

A state can be examined from two perceives: domestic and international. According to Mazzuca and Munck, it is the responsibility of the state to mobilize resources through taxation in order to provide public goods as well as strengthening institutions that nurture democracy. Since the state relies on taxes from the population to provide public goods, the state should accept to be questioned by the people to make a democracy thrive. Mazzuca and Munck apply the experience of European countries where competent and well-structured states have positively contributed to the democratization process.

On the contrary, states, especially those that own valuable natural resources such as oil and gold, continue to suppress the democratic space. These countries do not need to turn to the population for taxes to provide public goods and services as well as the establishment of institutions that nurture democracy. Rentier states are likely to have authoritarian leaders and the population in their quest to expand the democratic space will resort to civil revolt like the Arab Spring which affected oil-rich states of Northern Africa and the Middle East starting with Tunisia in 2012 (Boogaerts,2016).

A state is supposed to foster international relations. According to Barkin and Cronin, for the state to promote international relations it must pass the legitimacy and the legal content test (Barkin &Cronin,1994). In the contemporary world, states are required to partner with one another in solving global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and military conflicts. For instance, the United States of America was able to intervene in nuclear activities of Iran and Afghanistan with the support of the international community(Forsythe,2017).

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Comparison of the Two Articles

The commonality of the two articles emanates from the facts that each of them discusses the nexus between two competing concepts. The first article talks about state and democracy and which of the two comes first. Mazzuca and Munck conclude by stating that the state came before democracy (Mazzuca and Munck,2014). The second article by Barkin and Cronin talks about the link between state sovereignty and national sovereignty and which of the two forms of sovereignty is legitimate in the context of international relations. The authors conclude that while some international orders favor state sovereignty, others stress on national sovereignty and, therefore, international order and interactions are best achieved when the international community strikes a balance between the two types of sovereignty (Barkin &Cronin,1994).

Furthermore, the two articles talk about the notion of state. Mazucca and Munck (2014) assert that the state is the foundation of democracy and it is stated that provides all public goods and services except political order. In the second article, the state is examined in the context of international relations. Barkin and Cronin argue that for a state to champion the interests of its people at the international community it must pass the legitimacy. Both articles concur that for any country to be considered a sovereign state, the legitimization of the nation-state system and strict adherence to legal content must be demonstrated. The concept of f legitimacy is dynamic and it changes from one era to another.

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Lessons Learned

The two articles are informative and offer invaluable insights to the students of politics and international relations. The first lesson learned is that while the state plays an important role in the provision of public goods such as security and healthcare services but cannot provide political order (Forsythe,2017). Provision of public order is the preserve of democracy and democratization process.

Second, for a state to participate in international affairs it must pass the legitimacy test. A state is considered legitimate by the international community if it is dual formed and founded on strict adherence to a set of rules as well as common practices that are internationally acceptable such a respect of human rights (Baylis et al,2017). Finally, democracy thrives in countries where the state has a fiscal relationship with the population. Such tendency is common because the state needs to be accountable to the people who fund its operations. In rentier countries, nations, well-endowed by valuable national resources such as oil and gold, are likely to have authoritarian regimes (Mazzuca&Munck,2014). Political elites are capable of financing their operations from the revenue generates from the sale of state-owned natural resources; therefore, such countries tend to have authoritarian states leaders (Baylis et al,2017). In authoritarian nations, democracy is suppressed and political conflict is the order of the day. The Arab Spring was triggered by the authoritarian states that suppressed political order (Asongu&Nwachukwu,2016).

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Critical Evaluation of the Articles

The second article by Barkin and Cronin is more persuasive than the first article, State or democracy first?. Mazzuca and Munck present a one-sided argument based on the proposition, “no state, no democracy”, and reach at a conclusion that the state comes before democracy. Such statement is based purely on the experience of western countries and totally ignores the contribution of democracy in ensuring effective state especially in rentier states of Middle East (Mazzuca&Munck,2014). Therefore, the argument of Mazzuca and Munck appears to be one-sided. While it can be partially true that stable state forms a solid foundation for successful and enduring democracy, the authors overlook the fact that democracy can offer remedy state-related problems. Therefore, it is possible that democracy comes before state. Hence, the finding by the Mazzuca and Munck that “no state, no democracy” does not correspond with the general prescription to authoritative put the state before democracy. Democracy is core basis from which states derived legitimacy and in the contemporary world for any state to be considered legitimate it must be established democratically (Mazzuca&Munck,2014). The critics of their theory use the example of oil-rich, rentier state, Middle East countries to illustrate that indeed a democracy and be the solution to state-linked problems.

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The article by Barkin and Cronin presents a comprehensive argument based a wide range of evidence. The authors reach at a conclusion that while some international orders favor state sovereignty, others stress on national sovereignty and that international order is best when the international community strikes a balance between the two types of independence. Barkin and Cronin use the case of the German Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 to support their argument. The German attack on Czechoslovakia was perceived as having some form of legitimacy by the global community, while the losing state, Czechoslovakia, perceived the invasion as an interference with its national sovereignty (Forsythe,2017). Thus, to Barkin and Cronin, when there is a perception that predominates or stresses that sovereignty is derived from juridical order, then such states are less able to nurture national independence. Such bases on realism, and institutional theorists as Stephen Krasner also perceive sovereignty as a given (Beser&Kilic,2017).


In summary, despite many similarities, the article of Barkin and Cronin presents a better argumentation and is more logical. The works agree that state is the center of establishing strong economic and political institutions domestically and fostering global collaboration on the international front. Political stability both domestically and internationally is best achieved by having competent states that have entrenched independent institutions and which have passed the legitimacy test. When legitimacy is eroded, people no longer trust that the state will serve their best interest and they no longer find it necessary to obey the established authorities.


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